In the Kitchen

Italian Sausage and Vegetable Pasta Bake

I like easy meals. As much as I enjoy cooking, convenience is still high on my priority list, at least most days. Before maternity leave, I had to make dinner after getting home from work… work where I cooked most days… some days all day. I also have this thing about having dinner ready before hubby gets home from work. It’s totally unnecessary but I get upset and all irritated when I don’t. Although, I think I’m getting a bit better about it. When I made this recipe hubby came home from work a bit early and I didn’t get upset! I was more thankful that he could stir things for me so I could pick my crying baby off the floor and feed him. But as I was saying, I like easy meals. Easy meals that are hearty, healthy and look like they took some effort. I also like homemade. There are some really tasty pre-made pasta sauces out there and I’m not against using them, but I would prefer to make my own and know what’s in it. So although I don’t start with tomatoes and other vegetables I’ve grown myself, I feel like this is a good easy sauce that fits the bill of being easy, hearty, healthy and homemade. And to make it look like it took some effort, I like to mix the sauce with the pasta, throw it in a casserole dish with some cheese on top and broil it. I also love this recipe because it makes soooo much. In fact, it makes two casserole dishes worth so I had one left to put in the freezer… score! Another great idea is making this recipe when you’re bringing a meal to someone (if they’ve had a baby, passing in the family, just need some help, etc). That way you have dinner for them and you! Hope this recipe is one you and your whole family will enjoy!

Here are the ingredients you'll need... plus some pasta!

Here are the ingredients you’ll need… plus some pasta!

This is an easy way to chop zucchini. Just slice lengthwise before you slice into coins!

This is an easy way to chop zucchini. Just slice lengthwise before you slice into coins!

Sausage done... cooking the vegetables!

Sausage done, cooking the vegetables, water on to boil!

Sauce simmering, pasta cooking!

Sauce simmering, pasta cooking!

Mix it all together!

Mix it all together!

Sprinkle on the cheese!

Sprinkle on the cheese!

DSC_0440

Broiled and ready to eat!

Italian Sausage and Vegetable Pasta Bake

  • 1 lb (450 g) Italian sausage
  • 1 onion, diced
  • 1 bell pepper, diced
  • 5 mushrooms (about ½ pkg), halved and sliced
  • 1 zucchini, quartered and sliced
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced (or ¾ tsp garlic powder)
  • 1 tsp (5 mL) basil leaves
  • 1 tsp (5 mL) oregano leaves
  • ½ tsp (2 mL) thyme leaves
  • Salt and pepper, as desired
  • 1 can (796 mL) crushed tomatoes
  • 1 can (796 mL) diced tomatoes
  • 1 bag (900 g) short pasta (eg. penne), cooked according to package directions
  • 2 cups (500 mL) shredded cheese
  1. Place a medium saucepan over medium heat. (And a large pot of water over high heat for your pasta if you don’t have cooked pasta yet). Add the Italian sausage by squeezing it out of the casing (it’s really easy to do). Once in the pan, break up the sausage into bite-sized pieces and let cook until cooked through, about 8 minutes. Remove from pan, leaving some of the fat that has cooked out of the sausage in the pan.
  2. To the same pan the sausage was cooked in, add the onions. Let cook 5 minutes or until translucent looking. If using garlic cloves, add garlic now and cook 2 minutes. Add remaining vegetables and cook 5 more minutes or until softened.
  3. Stir in the basil, oregano, thyme, garlic powder (if using) and salt and pepper. Add the cooked sausage and the crushed and diced tomatoes and stir to combine. Let sauce come to a simmer. Once simmering, taste and adjust seasonings as desired (need more salt?). Also, if the sauce tastes “tinny” (like the can the tomatoes came in), add a pinch of white sugar. This should help take that unwanted flavour away.
  4. Let sauce simmer for as long as you want at this point (the longer you simmer the better the flavours seem to meld). I usually simmer for as long as it takes for my pasta to be cooked.
  5. Once pasta is cooked and sauce is simmered, combine the two in the large pot the pasta was boiled in. Mix until sauce is evenly distributed with the pasta. Spoon evenly into 2 casserole dishes. Top with cheese. Broil 1 casserole for 3-5 minutes or until cheese is melted and bubbling. If desired, cover the other to be place in the freezer. Enjoy!